Day in the Life: Wayne Zemke

The Oil & Gas industry is always changing, and the market changes with it. Here at the Caterpillar Oil & Gas division, we rely on our market intelligence team to be our eyes and ears, to help us do the work so that we can help our customers do theirs. Enter Wayne Zemke!

By Max Russell and Wayne Zemke | Posted October, 2022

Q: Where are you from?

A: Eastern Iowa. I live in Houston, Tx. I’m not from Texas, but I got here as quick as I could.

 

Q: What is your job now and how long have you been doing it?

A: I’m the Market Intelligence Manager for our Oil & Gas division and our Marine division. I’ve been doing a variety of this role for about a decade. The job has changed a bit over that period of time, but the title has remained the same.

 

Q: If you could offer one piece of career advice, what would it be?

A: Be passionate about what you do. I work for a company that’s really known as a tractor company, and you don’t have to love tractors. But if you aren’t excited about the work that we do; building infrastructure, providing energy, providing things that make the world work…if those things don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet. Find something that you can be passionate about.

 

Q: What aspects of the ever-changing oil & gas industry keep you on your toes the most?

A: For most of history, oil and gas development has really been done in what is today called Conventional Plays, which take long cycle planning before you get first oil. What happens is you get this dynamic where you’d have a relatively low period of oil prices that would squash investment for multiple years, leading to a future situation where you’d have a long period of oil prices that would then take the industry several years to spool up and be able to respond to. That cycle could be a decade or two, entry to exit. And with shale, unconventional resources, that cycle is something like 18 months to 3 years depending on what’s going on in the general economy. So, it keeps one on their toes because it’s so dynamic in terms of trying to predict the turns, trying to understand the magnitude.

 

Q: What made you fall in love with the oil and gas industry?

A: It’s the dynamic nature of the industry. It’s how interconnected it is into everything that we do. The shirt I’m wearing has plastic buttons. The table I’m leaning on has a plastic top. I’m sitting at a computer made of machine metal with plastic buttons. All those things are derivatives of energy and fossil fuels. It’s tremendously fascinating.

 

Q: How do you see the oil and gas industry/market evolving in the coming years? Do you foresee any new and exciting developments?

A: Previously, the industry used  the words ‘oil company’, and now they use ‘energy company’. These companies will be a big part of the energy transition, and most of them focus on that. At Caterpillar, we look at the energy transition as an opportunity because we make solutions that fit our customers’ needs as the energy transition happens. I think that’s very interesting and positive in the outlook of the industry.

 

How does your watchful eye on the oil & gas market help Caterpillar do the work?

A: When it comes to market intelligence, which is what I do, you’re always trying to do the best you can to predict where the industry is going to go. It’s not a crystal ball. As I mentioned, the industry is very dynamic so it’s not as easy as trend forecasting. It’s not a perfect science, but we try to get a little bit ahead of the headlights of the rest of the business. Shine a direction for where we think the road is headed and course correct as we need to. We then try to drive an intellectual curiosity that leads to change and makes us a little smarter.

Day in Life - Wayne Zemke
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Day in Life - Wayne Zemke

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